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Appraisal mission – Supplying Power from Renewable Energy

BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT

Mains electricity is more widespread in Ghana than the average for all African countries, with some 80 per cent of people connected to the grid. Supply is unreliable, however, and disconnections and power cuts are commonplace. The problem is being exacerbated as energy consumption rises in step with economic growth in the West African country.

As long ago as late 2011, the Ghanaian Government decided to increase energy efficiency and make more use of renewable energy sources in order to improve its electricity supply and make it more stable. Up until now, the country has mainly relied on fossil fuels and hydropower. Under the government’s plans, ten per cent of its electricity was to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2020. However, the current figure is still some way off that.

The expansion of a more environmentally friendly energy supply is progressing slowly, mainly due to a lack of expertise and practical experience. There is a shortage of the technical knowledge and planning skills required to integrate renewables into Ghana’s energy supply network.

PROJECT OBJECTIVE

The renewable energy pilot project aimed to study the feasibility of setting up a photovoltaic plant to supply electricity to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, thus covering much of the university’s daily energy requirement. At the same time, a technical partnership between KNUST and a university in NRW was to be initiated to provide expert support to the energy project and encourage the sharing of scientific expertise in the field of renewable energy between Ghana and NRW. In the long term, the project was to help expand KNUST’s Energy Centre into a competence centre for renewable energy as part of the university partnership.

PROJECT ACTIVITIES

The project’s pilot phase focused on three core areas:

Feasibility study
The investigation into the underlying technical, economic and legal conditions for a large-scale photovoltaic (PV) plant (1-2 MW) to generate electricity at KNUST concluded that, although the plan would be technically feasible, it would not make sense for economic reasons and on account of unfavourable frameworks. This was mainly because Ghana has no feed-in tariff scheme and Kumasi gets relatively little sunshine, making the idea of financing such a large-scale plant a rather unattractive proposition for investors. In order to achieve the planned contribution to a climate-neutral campus at KNUST through an economically and environmentally sustainable energy supply, therefore, other ideas would need to be considered instead of the large-scale PV plant.

Professional cooperation
KNUST entered into a professional cooperation agreement with the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences in Gelsenkirchen and TU Dortmund University, focusing on sharing scientific expertise in the field of renewable energy and developing KNUST into a centre for renewables. The joint work kicked off with a workshop attended by representatives from the partner universities, Ghana’s Ministry of Energy and Energy Commission and a Cologne-based company specialising in PV systems, at which the objectives of the cooperation were agreed and initial ideas for joint activities were fleshed out. The representatives from KNUST and the Ghanaian Ministry of Energy then embarked on a study visit to North Rhine-Westphalia, where they found out about renewables-related beacon projects and consolidated their cooperation with the universities. These projects served as a basis for the transfer of practical knowledge and experience.

Strategy development
All the stakeholders had to act in a coordinated manner if a strategy was to be developed for converting KNUST to a renewable power supply and further developing the university’s Energy Centre. The strategy was therefore developed in a multi-stakeholder process that involved the competent ministry, the Energy Commission and private-sector actors from Ghana in addition to KNUST itself. This made it possible to ensure that the strategy was founded on a broad base and all the planned measures were coordinated as best possible.

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Brief project description

Title: Converting the Power Supply at KNUST to Renewable Energy
Term: October 2012 – February 2013
Sector: Environment

Supported by:
State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia

Partners and actors

  • Ghana Energy Commission
  • Ghanaian Ministry of Energy and Petroleum
  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi
  • TU Dortmund University
  • Westphalian University of Applied Sciences in Gelsenkirchen
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